Each of us, as experienced leader/managers, has had to face adversity, whether it’s negative market place reaction to a product, an internal political response to an approach, or in the course of our daily lives. In all of these instances, an essential coping skill which the best of the best leader/managers exhibit incorporates a personal capacity for resiliency. The term -resiliency- I’m discussing today means an effective leader’s capacity to respond quickly and constructively to a crisis.
When an adverse business situation arises, often without much advance warning, the natural reactions for a leader/manager and his/her team can be to fall into a series of emotional traps, ranging from deflation (feeling disappointed, mistreated, unappreciated) to victimization, which is the relegating of an individual to a feeling of helplessness and a sense of becoming a bystander trapped by circumstances. During this victimization mindset phase a group often finds itself jumping to conclusions about the causes of the difficulty, its scope, the consequences of the issue and how long this uncomfortable situation will last.
There are four different approaches, each with three steps, which a leader/manager needs to employ quickly to regain balance over the situation:
- Establishing control over what’s going to happen next
- Developing impact designed to favorably affect the outcome
- Managing the scope of the issue and limiting the negative results
- Minimizing duration by focusing on a desired, favorable outcome.
Specifying: What facets of the adverse situation can I directly influence?
Visualizing: What would the best leader/manager I know and admire do in this circumstance?
Collaborating: Who can be most helpful to me and my team and how can I quickly get them actively involved?
The focus here is on remaining calm and developing a variety of possible solutions.
Specifying: In what ways can I come forward immediately?
Visualizing: How can I most quickly and effectively impact my associates?
Collaborating: How can I get the more reluctant members of my team engaged in our solution?
The focus here is on energizing ourselves and the members of our team.
Managing the Scope
Specifying: How can I limit the damage in any way, large or small?
Visualizing: How can we coalesce as individuals and as a group by actively addressing the issue?
Collaborating: What can each of us do, as individuals and as a team, to contain the adversity and create new ways to move ahead?
The focus here is on engaging the team, strategizing and executing a viable solution.
Minimizing the duration:
Specifying: How can I make sure the team is going in the right direction?
Visualizing: What will life will be like after the crisis has passed?
Collaborating: What steps and processes can I define to move the team forward with confidence?
The focus is on quickly initiating the first tangible steps.
Throughout this process it is crucial that the leader/manager move the team from being cause oriented (backward looking) to solution and response oriented (forward thinking).